2022 Kia Niro Hybrid Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical and powertrain issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

More hybrid vehicles are gaining attention on the roads of the United States, including the 2022 Kia Niro. The company claims that this hybrid is “engineered for a fun drive,” yet it only seems to produce disappointment. With the defective electric system and malfunctioning powertrain, customers are leery of driving it any further.

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Problems with the Electrical System

With an electric system aiding the engine, it only makes sense for hybrid vehicles to have a high-tech system running seamlessly, but that’s the case with the Niro.

One NHTSA post says, “This complaint is about a vehicle design and implementation issue rather than a malfunction. The implementation of the low speed warning alert for this vehicle is dangerous to pedestrians. Several times, as I was backing out of a parking spot pedestrians have stopped directly behind the moving vehicle and could have been hit. When put into reverse this vehicle emits beeping tone from a speaker mounted in the FRONT bumper of the vehicle. Because the backup alert tone is emitted from the front bumper of the vehicle, the sound is reflected off other cars and structures and is perceived as completely non-directional to anyone standing behind the car. When people hear the beeping, they tend to stop and look around for the source of the sound, which is some cases seems to be coming from 1 or 2 aisles over in the parking lot, or from another direction altogether. The tone that the car emits is also inconsistent with the usual and expected 1000Hz tone that most people associate with backup beepers, causing further confusion to pedestrians. As implemented, the backup alert system on this vehicle does more harm than good and has the potential to cause a pedestrian accident because of the confusing, non standard and non-directionality of the sound. A blind or vision impaired person would have a very hard time discerning the direction that the sound is coming from and could get hit by this vehicle as it is backing up. To be effective, the backup beeper should be mounted in the rear of the car and emit the standard tone that people generally associate with backup alarms.”

Of course, the automaker is already issuing communications showing technicians how to repair electrical problems because there are numerous to deal with. Service Bulletin #PS713 discusses how the vehicle might not start, even with the key in the ignition, because the Hybrid Power Control Unit may not unlock the immobilizer. Without the ability to start the engine, the Niro is dead in the water. That doesn’t make for such a “fun drive.”

Problems with the Powertrain

How a vehicle shifts and handles itself is due in part to the powertrain. While most new vehicles shift smoothly and run as intended, the Niro is an exception.

Here’s one important NHTSA complaint to read. “After putting the car in park on a moderate slope, I exited the car and about 2 seconds later, as I was connecting the charger, the car rolled backward 4 feet before coming to a stop. I immediately confirmed that the car was in park. The parking brake was *not* on. (Or at least, I did not manually set it- I don’t know if this car activates the brake automatically when in park.) The right front wheel was on ice. All other wheels on bare gravel. The temperature was 36 deg F. This is an EV, so it may have some sort of event recorder built in. If so, look at roughly 9:10 EST on 2/10/22. This is a short-term rental from Enterprise, so I’ll set the parking brake manually for the remainder of the rental and report it to them on return. Contact them if you want to inspect it.”

As with the powertrain, the steering system is another major aspect of how a vehicle runs, yet Kia is having issues with it as well. Service Bulletin #TSB_CHA084_R8 already talks about replacing the ECU, steering column housing and worm gear because of defects. Where is this “fun drive” that Kia keeps referencing? The only place this defective hybrid is going is to the repair shop.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Kia pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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